Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare he didn’t consider the president’s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller’s dismissal to be obstruction of justice, but McGahn rebuffed the request, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump has publicly denied asking McGahn to fire the Russia probe special counsel since the release of the report, in which Mueller detailed that directive and a subsequent request by Trump that McGahn deny that conversation ever happened. “If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself,” Trump tweeted last month.
Privately, Trump asked White House special counsel Emmet Flood to inquire whether McGahn would release a statement asserting that he didn’t believe the president’s request—and Trump’s subsequent efforts to have McGahn deny news reports about that request—amounted to obstruction, the people familiar with the matter said. Flood didn’t respond to a request for comment.
William Burck, a lawyer for McGahn, said in a statement of the request: “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made.”